NJEA President Sean M. Spiller was the guest of honor at Push to Walk’s 15th anniversary celebration gala on Sept. 29. The mission of Push to Walk is to provide individualized workouts and resources to people with spinal cord injuries and other forms of paralysis to optimize their current quality of life and to prepare them for future medical advancements. Nearly 250 guests gathered to mark the milestone and share in the evening’s theme: Celebrate the Journey.
Push to Walk was the official NJEA Convention Charity at the NJEA Convention this year and in 2021.
The event had a variety of speakers, kicked off by Co-founder Darren Templeton, whose speech was dedicated to Spiller, his former high school hockey coach.
“Throughout your life, you meet people along the way that redefine things that you thought you already knew,” Templeton said. “This could be in athletics, academics, career or family. These people allow you to raise the expectation you have of yourself. To push you to do better and be better. For me, Coach Spiller was one of those people, and he continues to be today. “
Spiller, for his part, admired his former student.
“In my capacity as a teacher and coach, Darren was destined for something special—that I knew,” Spiller said. “I just did not realize that his journey would be so complicated yet so rewarding.”
Spiller went on to say that Push to Walk “is a worthy cause for clients that are underserved, misunderstood and often neglected.”
Later in the evening, client speaker Stefan Yurica shared his story about his spinal cord injury and journey at Push to Walk. He shared how it is not always the big milestones that impact someone with a spinal cord injury but the small ones, such as being able to scratch your face or brush your teeth. These can make all the difference to someone with a spinal cord injury. Stefan said that Push to Walk plays a much-needed role in a patient’s road to improvement—taking over and pushing forward when traditional therapy ends and insurance runs out.